Clockwise: Marvin Blyden, Minister Mark Vanterpool, Dameon Percival and Elton Callwood
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Marvin Blyden has tendered his resignation as Chairman of the Taxi and Livery Commission with immediate effect over what he called political interference by the current administration in the recent appointment of Dameon Percival as Director of the Commission.
Blyden, who hand delivered his resignation to the secretary of the Hon. Mark Vanterpool, Minister for Communications and Works three weeks ago, said the commission's board did not select Dameon Percival as the Director.
Blyden was chosen as Chairman under the watch of former Communications and Works Minister, Hon. Julian Fraser and in an interview with BVI Platinum News, he said he did not want to name the person that the board had chosen, but it was sent to Cabinet.
However, BVI Platinum News has confirmed that Mr. Elton Callwood was the person chosen for the position of Director of the Commission following the process.
"We [board] voted for the person who was suitable for the job. We had a criteria for electing someone and we followed that criteria and based on our criteria, the board chose someone else, but I guess the Government wanted Dameon Percival. All it is, is that the Government's decision was not the board's decision...As the Chairman, before we begin our process I cautioned them [board members] and said we have to be impartial and fair to whoever come in front of us and I believe that my board did a good job in doing what we did. It was not an easy job," Blyden told BVI Platinum News.
The former Chairman said while he understands that the board's decision is not final, what he is hurt about is that Government had pre-selected Percival and this, he said, makes the entire process and the board look foolish.
"In reality, the Constitution of what I was part of, which is the Taxi Association, it clearly states that our decision does not stop at us, the Ministers have the final say. That is fine with me, but the fact that it was done pre-organized, I have a problem with that. If it was not something that was pre-organized then I could have lived with whatever the Ministers do, but the fact that it was pre-organized among themselves and then make a whole complete board look like an idiot, I cannot deal with that. So those are the principles and integrity that I stand by so I submitted my resignation...I was hurt with the behavior and then I made that decision," he lamented.
He explained that the Government had issued an ad in the local newspapers for a director and dispatchers for the commission, and several persons applied and then the process began.
"We spent approximately three days interviewing persons and after our findings, we had to recommend to Cabinet or Government who we chose and the board made a decision and unfortunately our decision was not the decision of the Government of the day," he stated.
Blyden further explained that the board then sent the recommendation to the Works Minister who stated that he could not deal with it; hence, he took it to Cabinet.
"We sent the recommendation to the Minister and he said he could not handle that and he took it to Cabinet... Maybe he [Hon. Vanterpool] didn't want to be the one to accept the board's decision so he took it to his other colleagues...And they made their decision...because if they knew they were going to chose somebody they should have chosen them behind the scene and don't make me look like a total fool...," he said.
In relation to his resignation, Blyden explained that he received a letter from Cabinet stating that Dameon Percival was the choice of the Government; however, he was unable to act due to the fact that the board did not meet during the festival celebrations.
"So I had to hold my grounds until I met with the board on August 13 or 14 to tell them what I will be doing. The board didn't agree with me leaving...When I left the meeting it was on my mind for a while and I couldn't live with what was going on. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to and move on," he said.
Blyden was not on salary; however, the director's position is a paid one and according to Blyden, money is not the problem since he took up the chairmanship knowing that it was not a paid job, but a service to the community.
He noted that he knows there are a number of persons in positions facing the same problem where someone is chosen before the hiring process has even began.
"Salary is not the issue here because I know there are a lot of people in positions that are facing the same thing with Government, but because their jobs are on the line they just go by with what Government say..."
He added, "This is the custom of the Government in the BVI where they just go through the formality. It's just like a boss; as a boss we do as the Government say; we send an advertisement to the paper and say we need an accounting officer, but we know that we have already filled the position. All we are doing is going through formality and until we break that chain of that formality nonsense, we will get no where in life."
Meanwhile, the former Chairman who said he will continue to stand by certain principles in life, claimed that he was disrespected as Chairman on several occasions by the Works Minister.
"There were a few meetings with the Minister and the Taxi Associations and as Chairman, I was never invited to any of those meetings; all that again was disrespectful to a Chairman. I don't think if we are going to run an organization in that kind of capacity then might as well we do it from in our office, you don't need a board to do anything," he said.
Blyden stressed that he does not see things through the eyes of the politicians and he will stand firm to his principles.
"There are a few basic principles in my life that I will have to try to live by because at the end of the day, whatever I do is not really for me, it is for the people who are coming after me...I don't see me doing things in the eyes of the politician, but in the eyes for the people...If you know me, I stand for principles and integrity because I believe being a Chairman does not change who I am, all I do is stand up for principles and integrity and those are the things that reveal who you are," he asserted.
Efforts to contact Minister Vanterpool for a comment before publication were unsuccessful.